Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin and Mark Teixeira homered in a nine-run second inning, and the New York Yankees routed the Boston Red Sox 10-2 Monday night to open a one-game lead over Baltimore in the AL East with two games to play.
Baltimore lost 5-3 at Tampa Bay and dropped into second place, prompting cheers from the crowd when the final score was posted before the ninth inning. The Yankees, who clinched their 17th playoff berth in 18 years on Sunday, would ensure their 13th division title in 17 years by sweeping the three-game series against the Red Sox.
New York tied its record for home runs in an inning, achieving the feat for the third time. The offense backed CC Sabathia (15-6), who allowed two runs and four hits in eight innings with seven strikeouts and a walk.
Making his third straight strong start, Sabathia stayed in for 103 pitches rather than come out with New York ahead in a laugher. Manager Joe Girardi wouldn't say before the game whether he'd consider starting his ace on short rest Friday if New York fails to win the division and winds up in the new one-game, wild-card playoff.
Cano homered leading off the second against Clay Buchholz, a drive off the blue facing below the glass-enclosed bar behind Monument Park in center, and hit a two-run double later in the inning. He added another double in the fourth.
Granderson hit a two-run, second-deck homer to right and Martin followed with a solo shot off the top of the wall above the scoreboard in right-center, a drive upheld after a video review.
Teixeira, back in the lineup for the first time since Sept. 8 following his recovery from a strained left calf, greeted Alfredo Aceves with a two-run drive into the second deck in right. Nick Swisher nearly followed with another homer, hitting a foul drive deep down the right-field line before doubling.
Even slumping Alex Rodriguez got in on the offense, hitting a sacrifice fly to end a streak of 11 games without an RBI. He tied Stan Musial for fifth place on the career list at 1,950.
Boston, starting what may be its final series under first-year manager Bobby Valentine, has lost six in a row and 10 of 11, reaching 91 defeats for the first time since dropping 100 games in 1965. In what resembled a spring training lineup, the Red Sox started just two regular position players, Cody Ross and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Six of the starters had uniform Nos. 50 or higher.
Dustin Pedroia was out of the starting lineup because of an injured finger, and Jacoby Ellsbury sat against the left-hander after returning from an injury last weekend.
Buchholz (11-8) was roughed up for eight runs and six hits - three of them homers - in 1 2-3 innings. The eight earned runs were a career high.
Daniel Nava homered for the Red Sox leading off the fourth.